The Animals Mens sides went two from two to start their run to the finals with a gutsy effort to hang on in the Reserves, whilst the Seniors turned the tables on the Warriors to replace them in the Division 3 top 4.
The Reserves started with what can only be described as a “stiff” breeze behind them in the first, and jumped out of the gates according.
Zac Kearns, Nic Glanville, Flynn Normand, and co-captain Steve Jones all goaled to see the Animals fly out to a 5 goal to nothing first quarter lead, a lead which would prove unassailable in the end.
It was the Animals turn to be kept scoreless in the second as the sides switched directions, and dealt with the formidable foe that was the Northerly breeze. Westbourne managed to nab a couple of goals and make things interesting leading in to the long break.
However the Animals came out after HT and were determined to put the contest to bed. Whilst only kicking two majors for the term, they again kept the Warriors to a scoreless quarter and provided a mighty task for the boys from Truganina in the last.
And when Kieran Jenkins scored the first points of the day into the wind after soccering in from close range, it made the task impossible even with two goals from Westbourne. The Animals ran the game out easily in the end to take it 8.5.53 to 4.11.35.
For the seniors, the season was on the line. With three weeks of no football and a trip to the Western Suburbs is what greeting them as they ventured out to Westbourne Grammar School for a season defining game against Westbourne Grammarians. Win and the Animals would find themselves inside the top four, whilst losing would all but end the Animals 2019 campaign.
With the wind blowing an absolute gale, the conditions did suit the side that are accustomed to blustery conditions of which did show with the home side moving around the ground quite well in the first to move themselves to 3.2 (20) at the first break whilst the Animals managed a very respectable goal into the breeze curtesy of a fabulous left foot snap around the body from club legend Paul ‘Barra’ Barranello.
With a bit of extra heat and scuffles in the first quarter, Sean ‘Academy Award Winner’ Howard made himself known to his opponents of which may have included a couple of well milked free kicks. In the second, the Animals go their running game on and started to adjust to the conditions kicking two majors for the term and working themselves back to level scores going into the main break. Jesse Collins was proving to be an absolute pest as his chatter around the ground and pure skill with the ball in combination with his lethal pace, opened up the boys from the Western Suburbs as well as Harry Davis can eat one of Paul Lalor’s tacos. Goals for the quarter went to Hugh Schaeche and Lawrence Virgo.
Coming out from the break, the Animals were determined as ever, and it was evident in the way they went around the ground and moved the ball as against in the breeze the Animals outscored the opposition through two goals to Matt Hill and one of the better players of the day in Virgo. Virgo’s constant pressure intimidated his opponents and helped create countless turnovers of which resulted in the Animals being able to gain possession. Heading into the last quarter with a five-point lead the Animals needed to stay strong and hold their momentum, and my word did the boys from Bennettswood deliver faster than Pizza Dough (great pizza can’t be rushed, sorry Domino’s).
With last quarter goals to Virgo, Dan ‘The Man’ Hill, Jack ‘Mr.Simple’ Hunt and Brent ‘Contested Ball’ Simons the Animals were never in doubt and affirmed their dominance throughout the entire game to run away with the four points and move into third position on the ladder.
Highlights for the game came from Collins who took down three opponents in the pocket, run around them all like traffic cones like a young Cyril Rioli in the 2008 AFL Grand Final before unselfishly dishing off to Hunt, directly in front. Other stars for the day included Raymond Kuhnell, who’s fierce determination around the ball and pressure acts lead the Animals across the line. Big Kevin Moloney dominated in the ruck and helped the Animals onballers gain first possession around the stoppages. Dan Hill was lively up forward all day and used his speed to get away from his opponents and become a valuable hit up target. Sam ‘Pound for Pound Champion of the World’ Davis was as crucial as ever along the half back line and was incredibly potent intercepting and creating run off the half-back line. Overall, it was a sensationally spirited game of which could well be the turning point in St.Leos season and in their run to the finals.
Next week the Animals face North Brunswick away and will look to continue their good form in both the reserves and the seniors.